The sci-fi comedy-drama, The Orville, has its roots in Star Trek as creator and star Seth MacFarlane has been a fan of the franchise since he was a child. And though we now have a plethora of Trek series to hold our attention, as Jonathan Frakes said, “”…The Orville has filled in a void. For a lot of people, The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation], and it’s got wild humor in it.” And the two-part episode “Identity” from season two proves that this series has Star Trek written all over it.
Heading to Kaylon
There was very little humor to be had when Isaac, the AI aboard The Orville, suddenly shuts down, and from that point on, Identity races forward with the speed and action of an epic movie. The crew return Isaac to his home planet of Kaylon, which is inhabited only by AIs, hoping he can be fixed. What Captain Mercer and his team don’t know is they’ve walked into a ticking time bomb and a world with deadly secrets.
Isaac is reactivated and chooses to remain on Kaylon, but before The Orville can depart, the crew discovers the bones of thousands of people underneath the city. It was those people who’d created the AIs, but because they’d later enslaved the AIs, they were terminated. And the AIs have a plan to eliminate all other biological life forms as well, especially since they needed more room to grow.
Capturing The Orville
Captain Mercer shows his true Captain Kirk spirit when he tries to get the crew remaining aboard The Orville to escape. But it’s too late, and despite a strong defense, the ship is boarded by dozens of AIs whose ultimate goal is to exterminate everyone from Earth and take over. But the crew don’t sit on their hands. Instead, they concoct a plan to get a message to the Union so they can be aware of the incoming assault. Ty, Dr. Claire Finn’s young son, has to assist Yaphit with the message because the conduits are too small for anyone else to get through. But Ty gets caught, and Isaac is ordered to kill him.
Convincing the Krill
Meanwhile, Commander Grayson and Lt. Malloy manage to make it off the ship in a shuttle, and they are soon taken hostage by the Krill just as they intended. They need to convince their enemies to help them fight the AIs to prevent extermination. It’s not an easy task, but an attack by an AI ship gives the Krill the impetus to offer assistance.
Retaking The Orville
In a surprising turn of events, Isaac saves Ty from certain death by killing the AI leader. He turns his back on his own people to return the ship to the crew, shutting himself and the others down with an EM pulse. But not soon enough to stop the AIs from their onward journey to Earth.
The Battle with the Union
The battle scenes between Union ships and the Kaylon ships are explosive, vibrant, and intense. And with the Union close to losing, Captain Mercer is ready to make the ultimate decision to sacrifice his ship and his people, much like other Star Trek captains had done in the past.
Assistance from the Krill
But before Mercer has to take that step, the Krill arrive, and they engage in battle with the AIs. Their technology is superior to the Unions’, and they soon send what is left of the Kaylon ships scurrying away.
These two episodes are true Star Trek magic and allow The Orville and the crew to shine. Without humor. Without the casualness usually seen by the crew. And with a captain who is ready to do anything to save Earth. Because, he knew, as Spock did, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
If you’re on the fence about watching The Orville, start with this two-part episode. You won’t get lost without knowing who the characters are. Identity could have easily graced the big screen, and by watching, you’ll see how The Orville truly honors Star Trek in its own way.